Don’t repeal the commuter tax benefit
The legislative change proposed to the federal commuter transit benefit, while seemingly minor, would be devastating for our region’s transit riders, local transit providers and even those who choose to commute by car. As the Nov. 26 Commuter article “Commuter benefits could be squeezed by tax overhaul bills” noted, the House and Senate versions “would repeal a tax deduction for employers who provide parking or transit passes as a fringe benefit for their employees.”
Combined with a lower corporate tax rate, this repeal leaves little incentive for businesses to provide transit benefits. Roughly 90 percent of Virginia Railway Express passengers and 65 percent of Metro’s Virginia riders rely on the commuter transit benefit, as much as $260 per month per person, to pay all or part of their fares. Any change to the benefit program could mean a dramatic reduction in ridership and a significant increase in the number of cars on the region’s roads. And more congestion means negative effects on our local economy and the quality of life for our residents. Congress should leave the commuter tax benefit intact.